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Hello Father,
a former professor of mine, an atheist, does not know the difference between secularity and secularism … What should I tell him?
I thank you as always, Father, for your attention and for your answers.
I pray for you and greet you.

Response from the priest

Dear Simone,
1. When we talk about “secularity” we mean the distinction between the political sphere and the religious sphere.
This distinction was made by Jesus Christ when he said “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”.
2. God himself wanted men to live in society.
At the same time, he wanted the society to be led by an authority. This one is called to govern, bearing in mind that temporal realities are governed by their own rules that it must respect and guarantee.
3. These proper norms find their foundation in the dignity of the human person who, because of his transcendence on matter and his longing for an afterlife, deserves to be treated always as an end and never as a means.
4. By secularity we also mean the right autonomy that the state must have with respect to religion.
It is the state, that is, the set of citizens who must self-determine to decide the form of government, which must recognize the rights of individuals, groups and businesses.
5. It is the task of the state to guarantee all citizens some basic personal rights, such as family, work, education, health….
Among these fundamental goods of the person, it must recognize that religious sense which is characteristic of men of all times that manifests his longing for transcendence and the afterlife.

6. It is not up to the state to determine which religion citizens should follow, but it must protect religious respect and also promote it.
It must do so above all when the principles of religion, such as those of the Gospel, favor in such a fruitful way the sense of solidarity between men and between groups.
7. It is therefore one of the duties of a state to respect and protect religion as a fundamental good for people and this is expressed by guaranteeing religious freedom both in the individual and in the public sphere.
There is therefore a positive concept of the secular state.
8. The negative concept of secularity is that which is expressed in secularism, which denies that the human person can also claim the right role of religion and the manifestation of his own faith in the public sphere.
In secularity, if we tolerate that everyone in private has their own faith, we do not want citizens to ask that the state take into account man’s natural religious orientation in its legislation.
9. With secularism and secular culture we forget that the denial of God and the religious sphere makes human life insignificant, which instead acquires authentic greatness precisely because it does not end with death, but opens up to a life transcendent to which one is preparing.
If the single person is destined for nothing, it is easy to conclude that he is worth nothing.
10. John XXIII was right when he said that “the most sinisterly typical aspect of the modern age lies in the absurd attempt to recompose a solid and fruitful temporal order regardless of God, the only foundation on which only he can stand; and of wanting to celebrate the greatness of man by drying up the source from which that greatness springs and from which it is nourished, that is, if it were possible, extinguishing his longing for God” (Mater et Magistra 202).
The same Holy Pontiff also said: “Whatever the technical and economic progress, in the world there will be neither justice nor peace until men return to the sense of the dignity of creatures and children of God, the first and last reason for being of all the reality he created. Man detached from God becomes inhumane with himself and with his fellow men, because the orderly relationship of coexistence presupposes the orderly relationship of personal conscience with God, source of truth, justice and love” (MM 200).
11. The Second Vatican Council in a brief but meaningful statement affirmed that “the creature, in fact, without the Creator vanishes …
Indeed, the oblivion of God deprives the creature itself of light “(GS 36).
I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.
Father Angelo